Today’s news:

Boro man charged in Miami bust

Machloof Ben Chitrit of 141-13 70th...

By Jennifer Warren

A 71-year-old Kew Gardens Hills resident was arrested in Miami for allegedly smuggling 36 pounds of Ecstasy tablets into the country two weeks ago, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida said.

Machloof Ben Chitrit of 141-13 70th Ave. arrived about 9 p.m. March 16 at Miami International Airport on Air France Flight No. 92 from Paris, the U.S. attorney’s complaint said.

After he disembarked, Ben Chitrit presented his luggage for examination to U.S. customs officials. During a secondary examination inspectors discovered 61,691 tablets of Ecstasy concealed in a false bottom of Ben Chitrit’s suitcase, the complaint said.

The stash of the nearly 62,000 tablets, according to one Queens law enforcement official, could be worth as much as $1.2 million on the streets of New York where the going rate runs from $10 to $20 per tablet. Purchased at a rave or a club, that price could double.

Ben Chitrit’s daughter, Daniella, also of Kew Gardens Hills, would not comment on her father’s case on the advice of his attorney. But she did say the entire family would support him through his predicament.

Of particular concern to the Ben Chitrit family is their father’s health.

“He’s very, very sick,” his daughter said before reciting a long list of her aged father’s ailments.

“He has high blood pressure and a heart condition and diabetes. He can’t walk on his feet. He has bad eyes,” she said, noting that her father had had two surgical procedures on his eyes in recent years.

He has also dropped in weight “since all that began” two weeks ago, she said.

Ben Chitrit was scheduled for an April 2 court appearance to discuss his status with Judge John O’Sullivan, who is presiding over the case. Following that, his arraignment was scheduled to take place April 4. His daughter will travel to Florida to be with her father, where he remains with other family members, she said.

Reach reporter Jennifer Warren by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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